The building of the Mulami Muimpe eye clinic in Kananga is progressing on schedule.
Building the clinic in Kananga is a sterling example of engineering prowess
Light for the World is building the Mulami Muimpe eye clinic in Kananga, in the province of Kasaï Central, together with the Institut Médical Chrétien du Kasaï (IMCK) and with the assistance of Engineers without Borders. Mulami Muimpe means ‘good shepherd’.
Light for the World is not new to constructing and fitting out eye clinics in the DRC. As in the case of Saint-Joseph in Likasi, Mwangaza in Kolwezi and Saint-Raphael in Mbuji-Mayi, this new eye clinic is set up in accordance with the social franchising model or blueprint. The blueprint lists the items that have absolutely to be taken into account when constructing an eye clinic that meets the European quality standards.
It is one thing to have a ready-to-use blueprint, but quite another to have easy access to raw construction resources. Kananga is a major city situated far from all the other large urban areas in the DRC; for instance, it is at more than 1,000 km from the capital Kinshasa and to get there, you have to travel a very long strenuous journey on dirt roads.
Serge Makolo, director of the IMCK, explains: “Kananga is not an easy place to reach, meaning that the procurement of construction materials is no small feat and threatened to seriously delay the construction of Mulami Muimpe. But the contractor, Multiservice Belle Époque, rapidly found a new supplier. And now, construction works are progressing even more rapidly than initially foreseen.”
Solar panels supplying electricity
That kind of progress report is undoubtedly good news. Nevertheless, supplying electrical power to Mulami Muimpe is not straightforward.
The situation regarding electricity supply in the DRC is not comparable with the situation in Belgium. As far as the clinic is concerned, an efficient power supply can be considered as a prerequisite for providing quality eye care. In close collaboration with Engineers without borders, Light for the World opted for addressing the problem by using solar panels which ensure a more stable and ecological power supply.
Hugo Jacobs, project leader for Engineers without borders tells us: “A clinic needs electricity. In Kananga, electricity is not available via a public network and, as far as we know, the situation is not going to change in a foreseeable future. Diesel generators could be a solution but both cost price and availability of diesel fuel are unpredictable. Structurally, buying such a generator is the less expensive option but, at the same time, it is the most costly one at an operational level. Moreover, a second generator should be acquired to cover possible failures as well as maintenance periods of the first one, meaning doubling the initial investment.
The most future-oriented solution for electricity supply is based upon solar panels and storage batteries, complemented by a diesel generator to cover sunless periods.
Engineers without borders developed a simulation model in order to determine the most efficient ratio between investment cost for solar panels and battery on the one hand, cost of the diesel fuel, on the other. Conclusion: 90 % of the energy is provided by solar panels, a diesel generator supplying the rest.”
The final stretch
“We are recruiting clinic staff. Public calls for tenders for the purchase of materials, equipment and medicines have been sent out,” tells us M. Makolo of IMCK. “Next stages are awareness-raising and communication about the existence of the new and first eye hospital in Kananga. Thereafter, the operational opening will allow us to test the systems while the official opening will take place in the fall of 2022.”
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